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Stay in Front of Holiday Shoppers with Mobile

The holiday season has always been the most important season for retailers. In 2010, holiday sales represented 19.4% of total retail industry sales. As the holiday season approaches, retailers are increasing advertising budgets to make sure they benefit from the shopping boom. In 2010, Kohl’s spent $113 million of its $340 million media budget in the fourth quarter alone.  Last year, they increased fourth quarter spend by $30 million. 

The economic conditions of recent years have had a major effect on consumer behavior, significantly bruising the retail industry.  Shoppers have becoming more frugal, choosing to save more and buy cheap. They have turned to the Internet to search for deals, engaging brands, and researching their products online more than ever before.  To resonate with shoppers this holiday season, you must respond to these trends.

The Holiday Shopping Season Starts Early

Finding the right time to start advertising for the holidays has vexed marketers for years. Too soon and you’re caught blowing your budget early and damaging your brand by showing Santa Claus in September. Too late and you run the risk of missing monumental shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

According to the National Retail Federation, 40% of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween.  To reach these shoppers, major retailers like Kmart started their holiday advertising 30 to 40 days earlier in 2009 than they had just one year before.  With such a large percentage of early-bird shoppers in the marketplace, it’s wise to begin increasing your marketing budget months before the biggest shopping days.

Spending Expectations for 2012

The poor economy has had detrimental effects on holiday spending, but the downward trend has largely been reversed. Many fear that the shocked economy will continue to affect holiday shoppers, but what they aren’t taking into account is the astounding 12% increase in online holiday spending between 2009 and 2010. Holiday sales have still increased 2.6% per year for the last 10 years, a clear indication that shoppers are still spending, so it would be a mistake not to increase your marketing budget to reach shoppers in the holiday season.

A recent BigInsight consumer spending poll found that 56% of shoppers plan on spending the same or more than they did on gifts last year.  But this doesn’t mean shoppers have abandoned the frugality they’ve practiced in recent years.  In fact, 41% of consumers from the same study plan on only buying gifts that are on sale.

The Rise of Mobile

There is a major shift happening in how people shop. The meteoric rise of smartphone adoption has allowed shoppers to become smarter and more efficient. Shoppers can now comparison shop from their phone in-store and find local deals with a few swipes of a finger. These trends should, and will, dictate how retailers engage their target market this holiday season.

Eighty-three percent of mobile app users polled in an Apigee study said that they are more likely to engage with advertising that is relevant to their current search needs and their locality. Fifty percent said that mobile would be most beneficial when browsing for deals wherever they are.

Marketers should heed these trends and act accordingly.  Mobile ads should be geotargeted and should incorporate deals, particularly local deals, whenever possible.  Ads that inform browsers of store hours and locations will also be pivotal to success, as the NRF has found that 25% of smartphone owners will use their phone to look up this information.

Mobile Shopping

The evolution of smartphone capabilities and increasing screen sizes has led to a dramatic increase in mobile purchasing. The previously mentioned NRF study found that 53% of smartphone users will use their device to research products, redeem coupons, and purchase gifts this holiday season.  Additionally, Apigee found that 31% of smartphone users will use their phones to compare prices.

The use of smartphones in purchase decisions provides an enormous opportunity for marketers to engage holiday shoppers. For larger brands, mobile shopping apps are becoming increasingly popular portals for commerce. For those incapable of undertaking such a monumental project, optimizing your site for mobile or adopting HTML5 can make your customers’ experience more enjoyable. Additionally, a carefully designed ad campaign that differentiates your brand and prices from your competitors’ can be employed on the web to increase sales.

Here Before You Know It

The holiday shopping season is right around the corner, and major brands are already ramping up their advertising efforts in anticipation of a big season.  After taking a serious hit in 2008, the retail industry has seen revenues on a steady rise in recent years. With increases in consumer spending around the holidays, advertisers have become more confident in their holiday spending. The rise of mobile is going to play a major part in this year’s holiday shopping season so be prepared to optimize accordingly.

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